“True community is based upon equality, mutuality, and reciprocity” — Pauli Murray, Baltimore-born civil rights activist. (Photo by Flickr user Vanessa Hernandez)

Smaller local nonprofits are starting to see a portion of the $641 million the City of Baltimore received as part of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 120 organizations that experienced negative financial impacts during the COVID-19 pandemic’s peak received funding, totaling $3.4 million, through the City and the Baltimore Civic Fund’s Nonprofit Relief Fund.

This funding was akin to that disbursed for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, or the Howard County Economic Development Authority’s HoCo RISE grant program, in that it focused on use for costs concerning COVID-impacted budget areas and targeted small organizations with 20 or fewer employees. Each grant was worth up to $50,000 and could vary from $5,000 to $25,000 and above, with no set minimum announced — only the aforementioned $50,000 max.

Technical.ly reached out to several local recipient nonprofits centered around digital equity and supporting small businesses. Four of these organizations’ leaders offered their insight on the impact of these ARPA funds for their respective entities, as well as the broader impact this funding has on nonprofits in Baltimore.

Michelle Geiss, cofounder and executive director of Impact Hub Baltimore

We are thrilled to be awarded $45,000 from the Baltimore Civic Fund via their Nonprofit Relief Fund.

For Impact Hub, this grant enables us to cover operational expenses and budget gaps that emerged because of the pandemic. As a nonprofit social enterprise, we relied on earned revenue from coworking, private offices and event bookings to cover nearly 100% of our core operating costs. The pandemic immediately shifted how people come together in our space, and that has had a long-term impact on our financial health. This relief grant allows us to pay new operational staff and keep supporting our entrepreneurial community through affordable space.

Many of the initiatives receiving these funds will cover unexpected gaps and ensure continuous support of the constituencies they serve. Over each phase of the pandemic, nonprofit leaders have been up against unprecedented challenges and sources of relief have been sporadic. It’s vital to keep support flowing to organizations who have been there for families, young people, neighborhoods and communities. Practically, people need to keep the lights on. On a more existential level, these grants honor the hard work that a lot of dedicated leaders and frontline staff have been putting in to keep going against all odds.

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